I know there’s lots of debate about “kids these days” and their cell phone usage, but I really fall into the: IF YOU CAN’T BEAT THEM, JOIN THEM camp on this one. Technology and social media is a huge part of our society today, and I don’t think it will be going anywhere any time soon. Also, it’s worth mentioning that I teach in a Center for Mass Communications so part of my curriculum is preparing students for careers that will very likely involve using social media responsibly and creatively. With that in mind, whenever possible, I allow and even encourage cell phone use in my classroom. (Are you gasping aloud?) Some times it’s as simple as saying “get your phone out and Google _______,” and other times I plan a whole lesson using platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. To be honest, I really believe my embracing of these things actually makes students LESS likely to be distracted by their phones during class. Not only are they engaged (because the lessons are fun), but they also don’t have that rebel mentality that can come up when you tell a teenager they can’t do something. We all win.
Anyway, on to the lesson…
Instagram is one of my students’ favorites, and I recently used it to review the novel A Separate Peace when we finished reading it (and before the test.) It ended up working out really well – the kids had so much fun with it, and the review was actually very thorough and effective, so I thought I’d share the details here in case you’d like to try it too…
Basically, I posted a blank Instagram template on our class Blackboard page (it is a PowerPoint, and I bought it for $3 from TPT*), and then I had each student draw a Chapter # from a hat. In the case of ASP, there are 13 chapters and – conveniently – 26 students in my class, so each chapter had two students assigned to it which made pairing students quick and easy. I had each set of partners create two slides for their assigned chapter, but you can play around with the numbers. To keep things consistent, we went over the template as a class (it’s the old version of IG so they were unsure about what went where in a few places) and created Instagram handles for all the main characters in the novel.
Here are two samples from my class of slides for Ch. 9 and Ch. 11 —
Each slide required students to find an image, write a caption, and then have several additional characters comment on the post. The comments were my favorite part because they required students to really know the characters and plot from the reading. (If you’re familiar with A Separate Peace, you can see what I mean.)
When students finished their slides (it took about 30 minutes for most groups), I had them email them to me, and I organized them all into a PowerPoint and printed them out before the next class. (I printed them in color on a full sheet of cardstock to make the next part easier/more visual; but, you could certainly print 2 or more to a page to save paper/ink.) The next day, I laid out all the slides (remember, there were 26 total) on the floor in the hallway and told the class to work together to put them in chronological order. The end result was a giant row of Instagram posts that stretched halfway down the hall.
As a final review, we (literally) walked through the story and read each post + comments aloud filling in the gaps in the story as they came up. Then, I posted the entire PowerPoint on Blackboard for them to review later if they want.
And that’s it.
I’ve done this with two classes now (9th and 10th grade), and they’ve both loved it. If you try it, I’d love to hear how it goes for you! OR, if you have another idea for using social media in the classroom, please share!!!
***Since I did not create the Instagram template, I’m not able to post/share it here. You will need to make your own – which seems hard – or purchase it from BookChick on Teachers Pay Teachers for just $3 – totally worth it to me!)